As the intervals between approaching cold fronts narrows and surface temperatures in the lake erode, Sabine lake fishermen will experience the most enjoyable transition of the year!

The hard core trophy trout fishermen are already salivating in anticipation of the largest trout in the lake opting for a larger entree’ and taking up residence on the shallow flats in search of one calorie busting meal per day. Prior to that coveted bite taking place, the birds continue to rat out schools of smaller trout and reds hustling shrimp in the lake and bayous virtually every day.

It is difficult for even the most dedicated trophy trout hunter to totally ignore the more user-friendly of the two options. Standing in waist deep water making cast after cast in hopes of just one shot at a big trout takes a strong constitution when boaters a few hundred yards away are catching a fish every cast.

Larry Nemier, a regular client that fishes both Calcasieu and Sabine with me several times each year in January and February has perhaps the best approach to fishing November and December. “I know how important it is to hire a guide once the cold sets in,” he says, “but as long as the gulls are still working, I fish out of my own boat.”

“I know that I can catch smaller fish until I’ve scratched my itch,” he adds, “and then I take my chances on a good fish with nothing to lose.”

Not that a respectable number of the trout caught under the birds in November are not keepers, but Larry doesn’t keep fish so his whole day is just about catching. If you do look forward to a fish fry every now and then, but you catch and release all of your big trout as well, his approach is the way to go.

The “fish under the birds” option” is already on the clock. Once the surface temperature dips into the low fifties, you’re stuck with option number two or winterizing your tackle.

The best equipment you can afford is a must when hustling winter trophies. Once you are thinking more about being cold than catching fish….you are done. Do not scrimp on waders, rain gear, and warm clothing. You have a far better chance of catching the fish of your dreams properly dressed with only two or three lures in your box than you do with an arsenal of lures and leaky waders.

Regardless of which of the two options you favor, I am finally 100 percent convinced that you will catch more fish by simply filling your reel with a braided line. It provides an advantage that you just cannot ignore and I do not know that I have a single client that does not return without at least one of their reels spooled with braid.

Strength is the least important factor as far as I am concerned. It is all about sensitivity and feeling those subtle strikes on tails or suspending lures that you never even knew you got with monofilament. I do favor mono when fishing topwaters because I can see the strikes and value a little line stretch when fighting big trout.

I will occasionally tie directly to a spinnerbait, but for every other application I do much better with a five to six foot length leader of 20 to25 pound test mono. A triple surgeon knot will slide smoothly enough through your guides and the longer leader allows you to re-tie a number of times without going to the box for more leader material.

Depending on the weather over the next month or two, I will have fished between 225 and 250 days this year. I mention that only because I feel that amount of time spent on the water grants me license to say “yea” or “nay” to any piece of tackle with some credibility and the positives far outweigh any negatives associated with the use of braid.

This is all about selling you on an advantage, not any particular brand of line. I tried three different brands before deciding that Power Pro best fit most of my needs. There are others out there that may be even better, but I have ended my search at this point. You can exhale now as Power Pro, unfortunately, is not one of my sponsors and I buy it just like you do!

I know this won’t eliminate all of your questions, but this is how I load my reels for all of my fishing. I fill my spinning reels with 20 pound test which has the equivalent diameter of 6-pound mono and my casting reels with 30-pound test with an 8-pound diameter
If you have never used any braid, start with 50-pound test on your casting reel, which is still equal to only 12-pound mono and you may like it better than the 30-pound. The occasional backlash is easier to deal with and wind-knots are almost non-existent. I think the 30-pound casts a little further and a low profile reel holds a little more of the lighter line, but I have a number of clients that swear by the larger line.

If at all possible, take advantage of the incredibly user-friendly bite this month and give the braid an honest try. Your catching is about to improve!